One segment featured on 60 Minutes (November 11) really caught my attention.
It’s the story called “Three Million Open Jobs in U.S., but who’s qualified?”
The reason I sat up and took notice was this quote by Ryan Costella, head of Strategic Initiatives at a manufacturing company called Click Bond. He was discussing the current skill gap in the labor market:
“I would honestly say it’s probably an entry level problem. It’s those basic skill sets. Show up on time, you know, read, write, do math, problem solve. I can’t tell you how many people even coming out of higher ed with degrees who can’t put a sentence together without a major grammatical error. It’s a problem. If you can’t do the resume properly to get the job, you can’t come work for us. We’re in the business of making fasteners that hold systems together that protect people in the air when they’re flying. We’re in the business of perfection.”
At a time when millions of unemployed are struggling to find work, the lack of basic skills may be holding them back. Apparently there are plenty of jobs for people with the right skills.
Mr. Costella’s real-world insight confirms what I’ve been reading and seeing first hand: Students are leaving U.S. schools unable to put their ideas on paper clearly and concisely.
A recent survey of employers conducted by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills found that 25 percent of new workforce entrants (with college degrees) were deficient in their basic knowledge of writing and written communications.
Individuals are at a clear disadvantage if they’re unable to organize ideas and present them in grammatically-correct written form.
It’s difficult for me to understand how our educational system has failed so many.
In my business writing workshops I explain that learning good writing skills is just like learning another skill, like playing a musical instrument or learning a new sport. Individuals need instruction and practice to perfect the skill.
There are many good training programs, instructors and coaches available to help close the business writing skills gap. The first step is understanding that it’s never too late to learn how to be a better writer.